- November 17, 2021
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Sun and clouds mixed. High 51F. Winds S at 5 to 10 mph..
Cloudy early with some clearing expected late. Low near 50F. Winds SSW at 5 to 10 mph.
Updated: November 17, 2021 @ 11:40 am
WESTERLY — Town officials have agreed to take a look at the municipal zoning code to determine whether current regulations and restrictions related to tattoo parlors are outdated, as well as whether inconsistencies have allowed salons in the town to offer tattoo services.
Town Council President Sharon Ahern said she had asked the town’s zoning lawyer to review the regulations after Josiah Dodge wrote to, and then addressed, the council during its Nov. 8 meeting. Dodge, a town resident for 44 years, has operated Irish Rose Tattoo on West Broad Street in Pawcatuck for about seven years. Regulations prevented him from opening in the town where he resides, he said.
“The zoning needs to change. I don’t understand why I can’t be allowed to open in the same place as a salon, especially with two of them having tattoo parlor licenses,” Dodge said.
Dodge told the council that he initially wanted to open a tattoo business in Westerly but decided not to try after learning, seven years ago, that the town’s regulations restrict tattoo parlors to the General Industrial zone. The zone is limited to the industrial park area along Airport Road and a section of the White Rock area.
Dodge said the White Rock area is further limited by distance requirements from activities such as houses of worship, schools, and playgrounds.
Obtaining a license from the state Department of Health for the industrial park seemed unlikely, Dodge said, prompting him to open in Pawcatuck instead.
Recently, Dodge said, he learned that two salons in Westerly offer what he called “cosmetic tattoos” and “permanent makeup.” The state Department of Health, Dodge said, makes no distinction between tattoos offered in a salon and tattoos offered in tattoo parlors.
The existence of two businesses, neither in the General Industrial zone, offering tattoos of any sort is problematic given the town’s regulations, Dodge said.
Ahern said a letter Dodge wrote to town officials before the Nov. 8 meeting, which outlined the same points he made at the meeting, had caught the council’s attention.
“I contacted the zoning attorney,” Ahern said. “He’s going to look for a way forward and present something for the council because clearly something needs to be done. There is an inconsistency.”
Councilor Suzanne Giorno said she was pleased to learn Ahern had contacted the zoning lawyer and called the current zoning regulations related to tattoo services “ridiculous.”
Councilor Philip Overton thanked Dodge for making the council aware of the situation.
“Many times we don’t know there is a problem unless it’s brought to our attention,” Overton said.
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